Awesome or Awful? : Reviews of Now You See Me, and After Earth

So far this weekend, I’ve had the opportunity to see the two big movies that have been released,  ‘Now You See Me‘,  the magician heist movie from Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans *2010) and now I just saw ‘After Earth‘, the new movie starring Will and Jaden Smith, and directed by M.Night Shamylan.   Which one is more deserving, if any, of your dollars? Well let’s just read on and find out.

I’ll do Now You See Me first, since that was the first movie I saw, yesterday.  The movie is about a group of four street magicians, played by Jesse Eisenberg(The Social Network, Zombieland), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, The Hunger Games), Dave Franco(21 Jump Street, Scrubs ), and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), who are brought together in a magician super team by a mysterious unseen fifth individual.    Cut to a year later, when the group, now called The Four Horsemen, are now attempting their grandest tricks ever, a three act mega trick, that robs from the rich and gives to the poor. 

 And in doing so they run afoul of the FBI, who sets Agent Dylan Rhodes (played by Mark Ruffalo of The Avengers) on his case, along with a French Interpol agent, played by Inglorious Basterds‘ Melanie Laurent.  The movie is a fun, cat and mouse game, full of clever dialogue, plot twists, and magic tricks that even the audience actually believes in until they are explained.  

Also involved are Michael Caine in a small role as Arthur Tressler, the businessman who at first funds the magic quartet, only to be scammed by them later on, and Morgan Freeman, as a former magician who now sets out to expose magicians as the fakers that they truly are in his television show. 

I have to say I really enjoyed this movie, it was fast paced, funny, and it makes you care about the characters, and it keeps you guessing the entire time.   If I could sum the movie up in a twitter friendly review it’d be that it’s Lucky Number Slevin meets The Prestige, and it’s an odd coincedence that the movie features actors from both of those films as well.    I’ll give this one four out of five stars, and this is the movie that you should be spending your money on, if you see any of the weekend’s new releases at all.  

 Now on to After Earth….well, guess I spoiled that one for you early, in what I thought of the quality of this latest M Night Shamylan…movie.   Now this movie I was actually really looking forward to seeing until about a few days ago when I found out who the director was.  The studio was wise to keep his name off the marketing, as it would seem that the director’s best days are behind him yet still.  In my opinion he hasn’t had a good movie since 2003’s Signs.   

 In any rate, After Earth stars the father and son duo of Will and Jaden Smith, playing…what else, father and son, in a far off future, not really specified as to the time of it, just that it’s been about 1000 years since humanity left earth because we had destroyed it for living conditions, and found new life in the stars.   Of course, when humanity landed on the planet they ran afoul of the aliens living there, who we never see, but they set loose their beasts, these blind, fear smelling beasts to kill humanity, until Will Smith’s character discovers a way to not feel fear at all, and he Daredevil’s his way into killing them.  

 It would seem that that’s not that big a stretch for his character, who doesn’t seem to have any emotion whatsoever, either that or Will Smith (even though he wrote the damn story) didn’t want to be making this movie either.    So we cut to later on, and Jaden Smith has failed out of becoming a Ranger like his father.  In an effort to bond father and son, Will decides to take Jaden with him on his next interstellar voyage.    Then something happens, causing the ship to crash on earth.  

Now, it’s a survival story, Will and Jaden are the only survivors, but Will’s legs are broken, and has to stay behind, so it’s up to Jaden Smith to overcome his fears, and get the neccessary beacon from the wreckage, which is conveniently located a nice life lesson building journey away  from their location.  

 That’s enough summary right there.  This was one of the worst movies I’ve ever, ever seen.  Will Smith pretty much phones this whole movie in, as it seems this is his way of letting his son take center stage, and carry on the tradition…or whatever.   And his son isn’t that bad an actor, but the movie doesn’t let him do anything other than be whiny and afraid, and angry, which brought to mind thoughts of Anakin in the Star Wars prequels.     

The special effects are horrible as well, I’ve seen better effects in certain episodes of Doctor Who than I have in this big budget motion picture.   No wonder their ship couldn’t make it, I thought as Jaden Smith gets to the wreckage, the ship’s made of balsa wood and styrofoam.  Also, plot logic, which I can forgive sometimes, is just way too many holes for me.  

1.  so, everything on the planet has evolved to kill mankind, (in a revenge scheme for nearly ruining the planet?), or so Will Smith tells his son before he sets off on his journey.  But nothing really seems to have evolved, animals are still the same, except for the snake that flew or whatever for a second.   I would assume after 1000 years of forced evolution, that some kind of sentient being would have evolved from that, or something cool looking.   Also, I’m pretty sure they ripped the scene in the Eagle’s nest and the tiger off the opening of Disney’s Tarzan movie.  I’m almost certain on that.

2. They’ve ‘invented’ tech that allows their suits to glide along the air like Batman, or hang gliders, or whatever, and can communicate with each other, but nothing for temperature variations to keep them warm in cool climates?  Though, the color change, “Hey kid, it’s freaking cold outside” variant of Jaden Smith’s suit looked like a cross between 1982’s Tron and Michael Jackson’s Captain EO outfit.  

Those are just the two big things that really bugged me….no wait also, going back to the animals have evolved to kill us thing…why weren’t the whales attacking the ship as it flew over them at the end of the movie? Seriously.  

 Still, the movie was not as bad as ‘The Last Airbender‘, but only a step above that.  I’d rather watch ‘Van Helsing‘, and ‘Van Wilder: Rise of Taj’ on an endless loop, whilst being kidnapped by a creeper who lives in a van, down by the river, than even think of this movie again after putting these words to pap…er…..screen.   Terrible movie…I wash my hands of thee.


So, there you have it folks, one awesome movie, and one awful movie.   Til next time, be sure to keep it Reel.


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